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The contribution of institutional knowledge in firms may vary by area of representation

A veteran in-house lawyer ruminated on the importance of law firms accumulating familiarity with their clients business, strategies, and employees. In his view, for one-off major law suits such background history and knowledge may have almost nothing to add. The fact of the case have to be learned so previous encounters with the client and learning about the company tip no scales.

In contrast, securities law filings, anti-trust analyses, patent applications, and FCPA compliance, to name a few areas of representation, fare better if the firm handling them brings to bear some background on the client’s operations and history. So too with widespread litigation of similar cases; being steeped in the pre-litigation past and the wave of lawsuits brings powerful benefits.

The presumed depth of understanding law firms accumulate has been considered here (See my post of March 15, 2006: convergence and purported institutional knowledge; July 21, 2006 disputing the putative losses from transition to a new firm; Dec. 6, 2006: retrograde effects of institutional knowledge; Feb. 1, 2007: institutional knowledge at law firms, yet much mobility of partners; and Nov. 19, 2009: transaction cost economics and institutional knowledge.).